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About the Disabled Fashion Student Program

The Parsons Disabled Fashion Student Program is an opportunity for Disabled people interested in studying fashion design to pursue a degree in the School of Fashion at Parsons School of Design. Program participants can study for an Associate in Applied Science (AAS) in Fashion Design, a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree, or a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree. They can expect funding, mentorship and a collaborative approach to accessibility at the university level. We are accepting three students into the first cohort, with a goal of expanding into a larger cohort.

This program is also a promise to the Disability community that Parsons recognizes the inherent value and brilliance of Disabled people as designers, as innovators, and as game-changers for the fashion industry.

An art-style portrait of Aaron Rose Philip, a Black woman, tilting back in her power wheelchair at a 45 degree angle with her eyes closed. She is wearing a white ribbed matching shirt and shorts set designed by Loewe with white sherpa heel boots designed by Off-White. Large overlaid text reads "The Dolls Are Dolling."

Image Description: An art-style portrait of Aaron Rose Philip, a Black woman, published in Interview magazine in Summer 2022. She is tilting back in her power wheelchair at a 45 degree angle with her eyes closed. She is wearing a white ribbed matching shirt and shorts set designed by Loewe with white sherpa heel boots designed by Off-White. Large overlaid text reads "The Dolls Are Dolling".

This program was born out of the question, “Where are the Disabled fashion designers and fashion creatives, especially those of multiple intersections?” It’s a question that co-creators Sinéad Burke and Ben Barry thought through for three years. As an accomplished fashion accessibility consultant and the Dean of the School of Fashion at Parsons, respectively, Sinéad and Ben wanted to create pathways for more Disabled people to pursue a career in the fashion industry. The Parsons Disabled Fashion Student Program is one space in which they hope to use their positions to create lasting opportunities for others, moving from exceptionalism to true Disability inclusion.

The pilot program for the first student cohort includes generous scholarship funding from H&M whose support has made the H&M Fund for Disabled Fashion Students at Parsons possible.

“I have devoted my career to improving the levels of recognition & equity of disabled and or Black trans talent across the fashion industry.”

Aaron Rose Philip, Mentor, Model
A headshot of Aaron Rose Philip, a Black woman with crochet braids sitting in profile in her power wheelchair, with head turned towards the camera. She is wearing a Calvin Klein black bralette and unbuttoned dark denim jeans, revealing matching underwear.

Image Description: A headshot of Aaron Rose Philip, a Black woman with crochet braids sitting in profile in her power wheelchair, with head turned towards the camera. She is wearing a Calvin Klein black bralette and unbuttoned dark denim jeans, revealing matching underwear.

Advisory Committee

The advisory committee for the Parsons Disabled Fashion Student Program supports the vision of the program and engages in mentorship of students. The committee is a group of Disabled creatives and leaders in the fashion space. They each bring their unique focus within fashion and disability culture to help guide the program and support the students.

About the School of Fashion at Parsons School of Design

Parsons signage and flags on 5th Avenue and 13th street. A car is driving by in the front of the frame.

Image Description: Parsons signage and flags on 5th Avenue and 13th street. A car is driving by in the front of the frame.

The School of Fashion at Parsons leads the industry into a future where access, equity, and justice are the standard. We cultivate a fashion community within creative, thoughtful, caring, and multidisciplinary learning spaces to foster social, economic, and climate justice.

The School of Fashion engages with study across the full spectrum of fashion design and textile design as well as fashion management, communication, and marketing.

Our students, faculty, and staff are committed to bringing about lasting change in the industry by supporting Indigenous resurgence; honoring the beauty of all bodies; and living in harmony with animals and the earth in ways that advance climate justice.

“Through meeting other disabled artists and designers and engaging with their work, I have learned to value my disability experience as a source of wisdom and creativity as an educator, designer-researcher and Dean.”

Dr. Ben Barry, Mentor, Dean of Fashion at Parsons School of Design
This is a headshot of Ben — a white, Disabled, cis gender man with low vision. He has short brown hair and he is wearing a shirt made up of different pieces of patterned fabric that have been sewn together. His head is tilted to the left and resting on his hand, and his brown eyes look into the camera.

Image Description: This is a headshot of Ben — a white, Disabled, cis gender man with low vision. He has short brown hair and he is wearing a shirt made up of different pieces of patterned fabric that have been sewn together. His head is tilted to the left and resting on his hand, and his brown eyes look into the camera

Media Contact

For press and media inquiries, please contact:

Will Wilbur

wilburw@newschool.edu

Andraéa LaVant, a Black woman wearing a full length Parisian satin coat with large cream flowers over a black blouse, purple clear glasses, and a gold chunky necklace. She has shoulder length curly microbraids.

Image Description: Andraéa LaVant, an African-American woman, is smiling and wearing peach clear tinted cat-eye glasses. She is wearing a black dress with white and peach flowers on it and red lipstick. Her hair is shoulder length natural curls. Although not depicted, she’s a power wheelchair user.

“I’ve made it a personal mission to creatively demonstrate and champion designs that are aesthetically beautiful and functional for all body types.”

Andraéa LaVant, Mentor, CEO of LaVant Consulting, Inc

We invite applications by March 15, 2024 for the Fall 2024 semester

Apply now for the Disabled Fashion Student Program.